Monthly Archives: September 2012

John Dryden on Translation

By | Translations | No Comments

I recently stumbled across this gem of a quote from John Dryden, the English poet and literary translator:

“When words appear literally graceful, it were an injury to the author that they should be changed. But since… what is beautiful in one language is often barbarous, nay sometimes nonsense, in another, it would be unreasonable to limit a translator to the narrow compass of his author’s words: ’tis enough if he choose out some expression which does not vitiate the sense.” 

This beautifully sums up the goal of translation; balancing fluency and ease in the target language with the meaning intended by the source text.  Can you ever imagine a machine skillfully executing such a fluid and creative task?

The Facts About the Translation Industry

By | Interpretation, Translations | No Comments

Consider the following facts about the Translation Industry:

-The global market for language services stood at US$26 billion in 2010

-The United States federal government spent US$4.5 billion on outsourced language services from 1990 through 2010

-The two most important elements of translation quality – technical accuracy and a vendor’s willingness to implement feedback – are even more important to buyers than linguistic quality

-Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing translation in the US was worth US$75.8 million in 2009, while medical equipment and supplied manufacturing translation was worth US$100.4 million

-Translation professionals in China saw their income grow by 46.09 percent in 2010, while those living in Russia, Brazil, Israel, and Romania received pay raises of more than 25 percent

What can these facts tell us about the translation industry?  The most important thing you should take away from this is that human translation services is a healthy and growing industry.  If you’re waiting or expecting machine translation to take over from humans, you’ll be waiting a long time.  As these facts show, technical accuracy is key for effective translations.  Even as machine translation becomes more “human” sounding, they will never be able to match the technical accuracy of a human, qualified and experienced, in translating technical materials.  And as all industries become more technical, and more global, human translation becomes an increasingly necessary tool.

Facts taken from:

Oldest Newspaper in America uses Google Translate

By | Spanish Translations, Translations | No Comments

The Hartford Courant, the oldest continually run newspaper in America has begun offering a Spanish version of the website… courtesy of Google Translate.  Last month the website began offering “Courant en Español,” which was just the website translated automatically by Google’s website translator.  And as readers of the blog should know, the results were predictable.   Former Courant writer, Bessy Reyna posted some of the more appalling examples.

Since Reyna’s post the Courant has added a disclaimer before the so called “Spanish” version of the site.  The disclaimer states that the translation was done by Google Translate and as such is very limited.  But it also invites readers to correct the translations through Google’s crowdsourcing feature.

While a machine translation can often be better than no translation, companies should be up front about it.  It always seems to come back and bite them if they’re not.  Just ask the Malaysian Defense Ministry.

This approach will not win you the market that we’ve talked about it in previous posts.  And asking your potential customers to do the work for you won’t help.  If you want to win a new market accommodate your potential customers; don’t throw them a bone and tell them to add the meat.

UPDATE: We have since heard from Ms. Reyna who has informed us that the C0urant has since changed “Courant En Espanol” to “Noticias” which contains articles in properly written Spanish.  This is encouraging news.